Why Science Fiction Readers Shouldn't Just Cling to the Golden Age

Author Gareth Powell recently attended a book group where nobody had read any authors who came along in the past 50 years. In a bracing essay for SF Signal, he talks about the peril of focusing only on "golden age" science fiction, and neglecting how the genre has changed.

Powell writes:

Some fans will always cling to the 'golden age' works of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and I can understand why. They provide a magic door back to the simple pleasures of a simpler world – a world before global warming, oil shortages, terrorism, and economic uncertainty; relics of a world where the future was easily understood, and (largely) American, middle class and white in outlook, origin and ethnicity.

Part of me understands and sympathizes with that need for security. I still draw comfort and enjoyment from those old books. Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Philip K. Dick… These writers are the elder gods in my personal pantheon; but they are neither the beginning nor the end. Society and culture have moved on, and there's more to our genre than words written more than half a century ago....

Science fiction isn't a museum exhibit. It isn't a collection of musty old paperbacks on a dealer's table, or a cardboard box of old videos in your attic. It's a vital and evolving genre, filled with verve and possibility. To let it stagnate would be to let it die.

The whole essay is well worth reading.